Kristine L Ming

US hails Israeli decision to connect Palestinian town to water grid

Israel’s decision to provide the Palestinian city of Rawabi with water is a welcome development, The State Department said on Friday.

“We are looking forward to the Rawabi complex receiving the water it needs to function, and that deliberate electricity cuts to Palestinian cities in the West Bank will cease,” State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said in an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post. “We support all efforts to improve the investment climate and generate greater prosperity and opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis.”

On the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington, his office announced Thursday night that Israel would hook up the new city to Israel’s water grid, and would take some of the frozen Palestinian Authority tax revenue to pay part of its massive electric bill and ensure an uninterrupted flow of electricity to the Palestinian cities.

The refusal to hook up Rawabi, a new Palestinian city north of Ramallah, to Israel’s water network has prevented the populating of the city and has long been a bone of contention.

Regarding the electric bill, Israel will transfer some NIS 200,000 of the funds it has frozen to the Israel Electric Cooperation, which – as a result – will not cut off power to the PA cities. This week, for the first time, the IEC shut off the electricity to Jenin and Nablus for short periods because of NIS 1.9 billion in unpaid bills.

“We encourage the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue their dialogue on lasting solutions regarding electricity and water supplies,” Vasquez said.

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